A week of brilliant racing, the Galway Festival again didn’t disappoint with seven days of competitive racing where there were certainly some thrills and spills. As with any major Festival, there were lots of points to take out of the meeting and after having some time to deliberate, here are five things we learnt from the Galway Festival 2017.
It was a great front-running performance that allowed Three Wise Men to take his first chasing success for Henry De Bromhead. It was a polished performance, travelling and jumping well under Noel Fehily who was over for the chance ride. Although the RPRs don’t speak too favourably of the performance, he beat 148 rated hurdler Bamako Moriviere with something to spare and if he continues to improve, he looks one to keep an eye on as we draw closer to the National Hunt season.
An improving chaser last season for Henry De Bromhead, Balko Des Flos couldn’t quite mix it on the big stages of Cheltenham and Punchestown, but his demolition job of the Galway Plate field suggests he could be a different proposition this season. He travelled powerfully throughout the Grade A contest, taking it up approaching the last and staying on well to ease clear in the closing stages. That performance suggested a rise in grade wouldn’t go amiss and he looks an interesting prospect for the National Hunt season.
It’s very hard to win a race for a fourth consecutive year, especially in handicaps as competitive as they are at the Galway Festival, but for Brian Ellison it was all too easy. He won the ‘Ahonoora’ Handicap for the fourth straight year and even more remarkably, he had the first, second AND third placed horses. With Baraweez winning the race in 2014 and 2015, Dream Walker completed his own double when following on from his 2016 success. We already knew how good Ellison was, but this feat proved he’s always one to follow in the bigger handicaps.
Clearly a smart multi-purpose horse, Willie Mullins’ Riven Light has improved sharply since being campaigned on the flat the last thrice and is intriguing for the rest of the flat season and beyond. Despite a far from easy passage, he won a handicap on the second day of the Festival and returned again on the final day bidding for a Festival double. He again encountered trouble when fifth behind the Ellison brigade, an unlucky loser when all is said and done. A mark of 105 doesn’t look beyond him on that evidence and he’s one to follow for the rest of the flat season and if he can bring that improvement over to the jumps come October, he looks to be one who should be in the notebook.
It wasn’t quite the level of dominance we come to expect from him at the Galway Festival, but considering how poor this season has been for Dermot Weld, it was a step in the right direction. Although he only had two wins across the meeting, his horses were generally running better than they had previously and the way that Aydoun won his race on August 5th suggests he could be one to follow once he goes handicapping and beyond. At the time of writing Weld has now upped his strike rate to five winners from his last thirty-three runners, so he is definitely starting to find his feet.